Hypochondria during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Hypochondria during the COVID-19 Pandemic

By: Jaylyn Senise

Hypochondria, or the anxiety surrounding one’s health, is characterized by the fear of contracting a disease or illness. This anxiety is more common than one would expect, especially within these current times of COVID-19 where it has been heightened. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, according to MedicalNewsToday, approximately 4-6% of the world population deals with clinically significant hypochondria. Today, some people may begin to feel anxious given the highly contagious nature of the disease in addition to the lack of information regarding the future of the disease. Oftentimes, this may lead to physical symptoms that emerge due to the stress associated with being exposed to someone sick or contracting a disease.  With the coronavirus pandemic, hypochondria may be intensified because some of the most common symptoms such as coughing and sore throat are common and may be due to other more common colds other than COVID-19.

Some signs of hypochondria include worrying that you have serious illnesses given minor symptoms, being easily panicked regarding their health status, being preoccupied by one’s wellbeing, and avoiding people and activities in fear of risk. Proper treatment for hypochondria includes behavioral stress management programs, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and visiting specialists for anxiety. The usage of antidepressants, for example Prozac and Luvox, and antianxiety medications are advised to control the effects of hypochondria.

If you or someone you know is experiencing hypochondria, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/hypochondria-and-covid-19

https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/features/worried-sick-help-for-hypochondria

https://www.nytimes.com/ 2018/06/18/well/a-new-approach-to-treating-hypochondria.html

Image Source

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2018%2F06%2F18%2Fwell%2Fa-new-approach-to-treating-hypochondria.html&psig=AOvVaw0M9bcHwiRGDUvI2RSlNcmG&ust=1625755773112000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAoQjRxqFwoTCIC39a6a0fECFQAAAAAdAAAAABAK

Anxiety: Back to School Anxiety

Anxiety: Back to School Anxiety

By: Hallie Katzman

Although going back to school can be very exciting for children, some kids experience high levels of stress and anxiety associated with the end of summer and the beginning of the new school year. 7.1% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 years old have diagnosed anxiety. Anxiety disorders can be characterized by feelings of tension, intrusive or worried thoughts and physical symptoms such as sweating or a rapid heartbeat. These feelings can be heightened by stressful situations, such the transitional period of going back to school after summer vacation. Children can experience many types of anxiety related to going back to school such as separation anxiety, generalized anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder or social phobias and specific back to school anxiety.

These anxiety disorders can be treated through therapy plans to help manage or reduce the child’s symptoms through techniques such as rehearsing a school day. Additionally, mental health professionals can also advise the child’s parents of different techniques to help their child ease their back to school anxiety. Family, friends and teachers can help to create a supportive environment for the child when they go back to school to make the transition easier and less anxiety provoking. If the back to school anxiety persists longer than the first couple weeks of typical jitters and is causing distress to the child’s daily life, then meeting with a therapist would be beneficial to help them better manage symptoms.

               If you, your child or someone you know is experiencing back to school anxiety or other anxiety disorders or mental health issues, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively, at 201-368-3700 or 212-722-1920 to set up an appointment. Please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ for more information.

Sources: https://childmind.org/article/back-school-anxiety/

https://nyulangone.org/conditions/anxiety-disorders-in-children/types

https://www.apa.org/topics/anxiety#:~:text=Anxiety%20is%20an%20emotion%20characterized,recurring%20intrusive%20thoughts%20or%20concerns.

https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/features/anxiety-depression-children.html

Image source: https://www.anxietycanada.com/articles/helping-your-child-cope-with-back-to-school-anxiety/

Munchausen’s Syndrome

By Charlotte Arehart

Munchausen’s syndrome is a factitious disorder where the individual continuously pretends to have various ailments and illnesses to seek medical attention for them. There are several other versions of Munchausen’s syndrome, including Munchausen through proxy as well as Munchausen through the internet. Munchausen’s syndrome is a mental illness that often comes along with other mental difficulties such as depression and anxiety.

Since Munchausen’s syndrome is a factitious disorder, it can be difficult to diagnose sometimes. After all, the patient is likely to be lying about their symptoms and illnesses. There are a few things that may hint that a patient has Munchausen’s syndrome, such as inconsistent medical history, constantly changing or unclear symptoms, predictable relapses, extensive medical knowledge, new symptoms after a negative test or undesired test results, symptoms are only present when the patient is being watched or is near people, and seeking treatment in many different places.

Many times in the news we hear about cases of Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, which is when a caregiver or parent pretends that their child is afflicted by ailments. There are many famous cases of Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, such as the case of Gypsy Rose Blanchard. In cases of Munchausen’s syndrome by internet, the individual attends online support groups pretending to be afflicted with the struggle that those who are attending the meetings are actually experiencing. This could be either to mock those who are attending, or simply for attention.

It is important that medical staff keeps an eye out for those who may be experiencing Munchausen’s Syndrome, since it can be difficult to spot. Those who are suffering from Munchausen’s Syndrome or Munchausen’s Syndrome by proxy should seek mental health treatment as soon as possible.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Munchausen’s syndrome, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/munchausen-syndrome

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3554979/

https://10faq.com/health/munchausen-syndrome-symptoms/?utm_source=7017173049&utm_campaign=6449781305&utm_medium=78641056298&utm_content=78641056298&utm_term=munchausen%20syndrome&gclid=CjwKCAjwieuGBhAsEiwA1Ly_nQk9C1zizAwKaVlu7DhBKde8bnBOPK7v4QhwG7rYBc-ZZj3av-254BoCzqAQAvD_BwE

Image Source: https://healthproadvice.com/mental-health/An-Understanding-of-Munchausen-Syndrome

Discipline and the Effects of Yelling at a Child

By Katie Weinstein

When it comes to verbal abuse, many people disregard it as a form of abuse because it is not as concrete as physical or sexual abuse, and it is more difficult to draw the line between verbal abuse and scolding. However, the effects of yelling and verbal abuse are just as detrimental and intense as any other type of abuse and can lead to depression and anxiety.

Being yelled at frequently increases the activity of the amygdala, which is the area of the brain that is responsible for emotions. This is because loud noises are signaled to the brain as a warning sign for danger. The amygdala increases stress hormones in the body, which increases muscular tension. These signals tell the body to fight, flight, or freeze, but none of these options are okay when a parent is yelling at a child since it isn’t acceptable to run away from a caregiver or fight them, which leaves the body to be in a stress condition with no purpose or function.  

There are long term effects of yelling at a child frequently since the brain develops neuronal pathways according to our experiences. If the child is conditioned to frequently respond to stressful situations, the child will develop pathways that activate a stress response quickly. Since negative interactions impact a person more than positive interactions, it affects our expectations and self-esteem drastically, especially if the yelling involves name calling, as well as behavior. One might think that yelling would get a child not engage in a specific behavior, but in reality yelling increases bad behavior due to stress and increased aggression as a result of a hyperactive amygdala, which may cause the parent to yell more. Since the child is constantly stressed, they are at risk for mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, since yelling is not an effective communication style, the child may not learn to properly communicate, which can affect the child’s relationships in the future, leading to more problems down the road.

If you or someone you know is experiencing trauma from verbal abuse please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

https://optimistminds.com/psychological-effects-of-being-yelled-at/

https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/February-2018/The-Problem-with-Yelling#:~:text=Being%20frequently%20yelled%20at%20changes,increasing%20muscular%20tension%20and%20more.

https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/effects-of-yelling-at-kids

Dependent Personality Disorder

By: Lauren Zoneraich

Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD) is characterized by an overdependence on others to feel secure and function. A personality disorder is defined by the possession of an unhealthy and unwavering way of thinking, functioning, and behaving. People with personality disorders often experience difficulty in relationships, school, work, and social situations because their unhealthy cognitions often lead to problematic behaviors that may upset or bother people in their life.

For those with DPD, it feels impossible to function without the help and support of others. This overwhelming reliance on others for emotional and physical security causes an intense fear of abandonment, often leading to anxious behaviors that partners or friends may describe as “needy” or “clingy.” Anxious behaviors include being overly passive or submissive, being unable to disagree with others, and tolerating poor treatment by others. People with DPD would rather stay in a bad relationship than be by themselves. When relationships end, people with DPD may feel depressed. Immediately, they may begin searching for new relationships, as the thought of being alone is unfathomable.

People with Dependent Personality Disorder often lack self-confidence and self-efficacy. As a result, they cannot make decisions, even small decisions, without the approval or validation of others, nor start projects on their own.

There are no direct causes for DPD, but there are some risk factors that may contribute to its development. These risk factors include traumatic abandonment during childhood, a family history of personality disorders, a family history of anxiety or depression, and chronic childhood illness. Also, growing up with withdrawn, abusive, or overly- controlling parents is a risk factor for DPD.

Psychotherapy can help one address the symptoms of DPD, specifically Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and psychodynamic therapy. CBT can help one learn to reframe one’s cognitions, while psychodynamic therapy can help one become conscious of the roots of one’s personality disorder.

If you or someone you know is struggling with relationships, self-esteem, or daily functioning, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://www.sheppardpratt.org/knowledge-center/condition/dependent-personality-disorder/

https://www.healthline.com/health/dependent-personality-disorder

https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/dependent-personality-disorder

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/personality-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20354463

Image Sources:

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/personality-disorders/what-is-dependent-personality-disorder-and-what-does-it-mean-for-me/

Burnout; what it is and how to prevent it

By Katie Weinstein

When push comes to shove, stress becomes burnout. This can lead to detrimental effects on our physical and mental health, so it is important to recognize when burnout is beginning to occur. Burnout is a gradual process that is defined as an extended period of stress and exhaustion that feels like it isn’t improving. Some signs of burnout are losing interest and motivation to a point in which you become disengaged, which can cause a cynical and resentful attitude. Burnout also affects physical health, causing changes in appetite and sleep and frequent headaches.

The causes of burnout include work, lifestyle, and personality traits. Lack of recognition in a chaotic or high pressure environment can make someone more susceptible to burnout. Some ways to improve work related burnout are to outsource or share responsibilities and to set boundaries for off times such as not checking email. Another cause of burnout can be caregiver burnout, since it can be very tiring to care for a child. It’s important to remember that it does not make you a bad parent or friend to ask for help when you need it. Everyone needs a break. Additionally, a perfectionist attitude and pessimistic view on things may lead to burnout, it is important to recognize when burnout is beginning so that you can practice stress managing techniques and find time to do things that you enjoy to prevent burnout. 

Knowing the difference between a burnout and being overly stressed is essential for mental health. It is important to limit contact with negative people and reach out to supportive friends and family in order to shape a more positive attitude and prevent burnout.

If you or someone you know is experiencing burnout or high levels of stress, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/burnout

Anxiety and Depression: Rumination

By: Lauren Zoneraich

Rumination is the cognitive process of repeating negative thoughts without completion, much to one’s distress. In the mind, the thoughts play like a broken record. Rumination can involve negative thoughts about the past or present, and the self. This form of cognition plays a key role in many psychological conditions, such as depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, alcohol abuse, OCD, PTSD, and eating disorders. Rumination is a passive process. One feels as if one cannot control repetitive, dominating thoughts. These distracting thought circles can last for long periods of time and disrupt work, school, and social life. Rumination is different than worry in that rumination involves negative thought content rather than thought content related to uncertainty. Worry usually is tied to the future, while ruminative thoughts are usually tied to the past or present. Rumination can impact physical health by increasing stress levels.In the context of depression, rumination usually involves negative self-assessments, such as feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness. These feelings can lead to anxious responses and further worsen one’s emotional state.

There are some intervention strategies to disrupt rumination. One way is to distract oneself with other activities, such as socializing or exercising. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is a therapy approach that aims to change negative thought patterns. Patients learn to recognize their distortions, irrational thoughts, and negative thoughts. Once they recognize these thoughts, patients reframe negative thoughts and assess the irrationality of their thoughts. Patients also learn methods to calm their mind and body through breathing exercises and thinking of things they associate with feeling calm and peaceful. Patients are also encouraged to think of action plans to address their negative thoughts.

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety or depression, or is seeking Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for rumination, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2012). Rumination: relationships with physical health. Innovations in clinical neuroscience9(2), 29–34. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3312901/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/depression-management-techniques/201604/rumination-problem-in-anxiety-and-depression

https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral

Image Source:

https://blogs.kcl.ac.uk/editlab/2018/10/12/r-is-for-rumination/

OCD: Life During a Pandemic

By Charlotte Arehart

It seems logical to assume that those struggling with OCD are having a harder time during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this is not necessarily true. While some people who suffer from OCD are having more troubles, not every person who has OCD is seeing a difference in their symptoms. For example, someone who’s OCD focuses on other infectious agents that are not COVID-19 will probably not see a lot of change in their symptoms. A study done in November of 2020 found that OCD symptoms increased in frequency significantly more in “washers,” or people who are afraid of contamination, than in non-washers with OCD.

Many individuals with OCD are expressing how the pandemic has made other people realize what it is like to obsess over contamination. For some people with OCD, this has been the way they have felt for their entire lives. For many of us, obsessively cleaning and sanitizing things has only become part of our habits because of the pandemic.

One benefit that doctors have been seeing during the pandemic, specifically for OCD treatment, is the fact that online therapy sessions allow the patient to have their session in any setting. Many people who are being treated for OCD use exposure therapy with their therapists to help reduce their symptoms. This involves patients exposing themselves to stimuli that may induce their symptoms in an attempt to reduce their anxiety about these symptoms. With sessions being held on telehealth, patients can move about their environment and even do their therapy in unusual locations that allow them to expose themselves, with professional direction, to their stressors. This would not always be possible in an office setting.

The bottom line is that one cannot assume that an individual with OCD is experiencing worse symptoms due to the pandemic. While this is true some people who are suffering from OCD, not every individual’s stressors include the virus. It is important that someone who is experiencing OCD seeks treatment as soon as possible, before symptoms worsen. OCD can be debilitating if it is extreme. Therapy is an excellent form of treatment for OCD.

If you or someone you know is struggling with OCD, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://www.columbiapsychiatry.org/news/covid-q-obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7644184/

Image Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/06/13/872466613/obsession-or-just-good-hygiene-keeping-the-coronavirus-and-ocd-at-bay

Depression and Humor

By Katie Weinstein

Humor is not only used as a way to get a good laugh with friends, but as a coping mechanism to defuse a situation. Using a positive humor style is associated with good health outcomes, but using a negative humor style, such as self-deprecation, is linked to depression.

It is important to know how to laugh at yourself, but it is also important to know when your self-deprecating has gone too far and is leading to depression. Some signs might be that you can’t take a compliment or that it is a reflex to use self-deprecating humor since this is indicative of low self-esteem. It is easy to justify self-deprecating humor as not wanting to sound too arrogant, but if you use it alone, this is a major warning sign since no one will be there to laugh at your jokes. Another sign might be that you start to actually believe what you’re saying. The point of self-deprecating humor is to make light of imperfections, not to validate insecurities. When you’ve gone too far with self-deprecating humor, the people around you might either tell you this or stop laughing at that type of humor since it makes other people uncomfortable.

The relationship between self-depreciative humor and depression remains unclear as to which causes the other or if there is a cyclical effect between the two. It is possible that people who are depressed choose a self-deprecating humor style because they are attempting to cope with low self-esteem or it is possible that repetitive negative humor causes low self-esteem and depression. A third possibility is that genetic and environmental factors affect depression and negative humor styles.

One way to stop using self-deprecating humor is to fight the urge to put yourself down when someone compliments you and just say thank you. Being cognizant of when you are using self-deprecating humor and the way the way that it makes you feel is important for helping you to stop using it.

If you or someone you know is experiencing low self-esteem and or depression please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/humor-sapiens/201911/the-relationship-between-humor-and-depression

Kratom Craze

By Charlotte Arehart

If something is legal, that must mean that it’s safe, right? While this would be great to believe, unfortunately it is not true.  An example of something that is not illegal yet but is still unsafe is the drug kratom. Although banned in 6 states, kratom is still legal in the United States. It can easily be purchased at drug stores and even online. Kratom, a psychoactive plant, comes from the leaves of kratom trees that grow in Southeast Asia, where it has traditionally been used for teas and medicines. Only recently has kratom been used frequently in Western societies. Many people praise kratom for alleviating their pain from headaches or even bad knees. However, kratom comes with some not-so-great side effects, and some that are quite aversive.

Low doses of kratom seem very beneficial. Users may experience increased energy, lower pain levels, and feelings of relaxation. However, continued consistent use of kratom or large doses of kratom pose some serious side effects. And since kratom is so addictive, it is easy for users to work their way up to this point. Users may begin to hallucinate, become depressed, have seizures, enter comas, or even die when mixing kratom with other substances. There have been many deaths recorded because of kratom usage with other substances like alcohol. One user on WebMD begs others to be wary of kratom, stating that their family member died from a third seizure caused by the drug. Another user warned of the addictive effects of the drug, saying that kratom advocates downplay the withdrawal symptoms to be similar to caffeine withdrawal when in reality it is more like “full on opioid withdrawal” symptoms. Since kratom has a very similar chemical reaction in the body as opioid drugs, it makes sense that the withdrawal symptoms would be very similar. Other users have stated that while the drug may be efficient in alleviating pain, the dependency that comes with the drug is not worth it.

Even though kratom is not illegal, there is no such thing as a “good” addiction. If you or someone you know is facing a kratom addiction, there are ways to get help. It is important that anyone who is facing a kratom addiction seeks therapy as soon as possible, before it is too late.

If you or someone you know needs substance abuse support, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/kratom/art-20402171

https://www.healthline.com/health/kratom-and-alcohol#effects

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657101/

Image Source: https://www.healthline.com/health/kratom-and-alcohol